I think I was about 10. I was standing in line at lunch, when the cutest boy in the whole school looked at me and said, “Hey little boy can you move?”
Yeah I was the poor kid. My pants, my mom had sewn for me out of discount material she scored after Christmas. They were ugly and I hated them. MY shoes were hand me downs from one of my older sisters. Like that wasn’t bad enough I literally had the same haircut as my brother who was year younger than me. Talk about embarrassing. I rocked it as best I could. However I knew I looked less than cute.
Fast forward to 40. I think about that moment all the time. I wonder what I would say to him if I saw him. I also made a conscious decision at that moment 30 years prior to just be me. If people didn’t like it I would not run and cry in the bathroom like I did that day. Instead I would defend myself and rock what God gave me.
I was never a girly kid. I didn’t wear makeup really until my mid twenties. I preferred to work in the yard over housework as a child and was a natural athlete. In high school I was in line for a full ride scholarship in Swim. Yet the mountains were calling me. So instead I embarked on many years hitchhiking around the sierras climbing rocks, backpacking and meeting epic people. I even rocked dreads for many years. I enjoyed just being me.
To be completely honest with myself though I now look back and realize had I had solid support from the parentals, I would have surely gone off to college. I think a part of me knew we couldnt financially pull it off. Mind you I had been paying rent since I was 15. I had been living with my single dad. His health had been terrible and I cared for him as best I could while maintaining honor roll, working and training for my next adventure.
Time in the pool I just couldn’t take seriously. It seemed so mundane and controlled in comparison to a peak in the sierras. Looking back it is one regret I have though . I sure hope that I didn’t misjudge what I was capable of. Hindsight is a real turd isn’t it?
The turning point for me was one very cold day at swim practice. I was a junior and clearly the top pick for all collegiate grandness. However the 3 next best girls I swam with were from wealthy families nearby. I quite literally rode my bike to high school from the other side of the tracks…… from a trailer park. One cold morning all three of them drove past me as I balanced my bike at a red light. Yep my cheap mountain bike while they rocked Nirvana in their cool new convertible VW Rabbit. I couldn’t even afford to get my drivers license. They yelled “Whats up SnaggleTooth” Like they had rehearsed it. I was completely paralyzed. Tears rolled down my face the whole way to school. I sobbed in the library after school and made every excuse not to go to practice. But something inside me made me go.
I walked to the pool and without making eye contact with any of them swam the hardest I had ever swam. The rage I felt was coming out in perfect strokes, yet one of them kept tapping my toes. Just to let me know she was ON ME.
Remember I had made myself a deal 7 years prior. I would defend myself. I was incredibly tired from working late the night before. My normal schedule was school, practice, work, climbing gym. All of this I did via mountain bike. I did not live in town! I was beat and the emotional roller coaster I had been on all day was a wild one.
She grabbed my shin and squeezed as hard as she could. I came up for air and stopped mid lane. She pretended to not realize i stopped and punched me in the side of my face. Game on! I won’t go into details since I am not proud of what I did next. Lets just say she needed a towel to get out of the pool. I got out of the pool that day never to return again. No coaches visited me. I was super hurt yet incredibly proud of myself. I knew she would never bully someone again.
I did my time for the next year by spending my lunches in the library reading national geographic and dreaming of Yosemite.
Years and Years later I found myself at time trying to smile without showing my big snaggletooth. My father had told me since I was a little girl that he loved my tooth so I thought it was cute. It had never occurred to me that it wasnt until those girls called it out.
At 26 I had a great job as a lineman for a phone company. I had great insurance. I made the appoitnemnt to get braces. I was all set for Sept 15. On Sept 14 2000 My father died in a single car accident in the Sierras. I never went to my appointment. I never once regretted leaving that snaggletooth in place. If Jewel cold rock it so could I!
Just like that damn snaggletooth sometimes I question myself. Mind set is such a delicate thing. A bad flu, mean client, off day, missed meal, or a slew of other things could trigger this emotion. You know the one where you think maybe you aren’t good enough. Lately it has been my huge stomach from 4 babies. It bothers me. Makes me feel unattractive to my husband.
It wont go away. No matter what I do. I literally look 5 months pregnant all the time. So I just work extra hard at my mindset. That tummy housed 4 huge babies. 6.4 oz ZOE RAY WOOD, 9.7 oz JUSTICE, 9.3 MARLEY, and 9.15 WILLIE!!!! So instead of beating myself up I go through their births in my head and BOOM emotion gone. I love my body. It can carry me far on a damn bike and I grow humans in there!!!
I hope for all my friends, agents and family that you all find your snaggletooth and conquer it. Use it as your power and not your weakness. Revel in your amazingness. I’ll continue to strive to do the same. Cheers SnaggleBUDDIES……